I love a chef cookbook that really gets down deep into what the chef cooks and cares about, and this latest one from John Besh feels like an all-access pass. It's less focused on how and what Chef Besh is cooking right now and much more about where he came from — the book takes us back to the places and people who made this star American chef who he is today.
• Who wrote it: John Besh
• Who published it: Andrews McMeel
• Number of recipes: Around 140
• Recipes for right now: Rabbit in Gelée with Honey Vinegar Glaze, Fennel ChouCroute, Oak Leaf Lettuce Salad with Figs & Ham, Mushroom Sauté with Gnocchi & Parmesan, Roasted Marrow Bones with Brioche, Pumpkin Tian, Salt Cod Fritters
• Other highlights: This book is as beautiful as it is hefty — it's just as at home on a coffee table as it is getting splattered by sausage ingredients on the counter! The recipes and travelogue and bits of memoir are all woven together into a single, seamless work. It's so fascinating to see the context for some of these recipes, not only in John Besh's life but also in particular cities and cultures around the world.
These recipes themselves feel very accessible — and if we were talking face to face, you'd probably hear the surprise in my voice! Chef and restaurant recipes are notorious for being fussy at best and un-repeatable at worst. But here, Chef Besh has taken pains to keep the recipes streamlined (or as streamlined as possible when we're talking about things like duck breast terrines). There are also a good number of photos that illustrate tricky steps that might be unfamiliar to those of us not trained in classic French cuisine.
Don't look for John Besh's signature New Orleans cuisine here — this cookbook is all about where that kind of all-star cooking came from.
• Who would enjoy this book? Fans of John Besh, of course, but also anyone who loves to understand what makes a chef tick. It's a great book for hunters and fishermen (and fisherwomen!), as well as folks who love a bit of armchair travel with a side of tasty food.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Cooking from the Heart by John Besh
• Visit the author's website: John Besh
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